6 March 2020

Rules are rules and most of the time, you just shouldn't "play a let"

The Beatles Let It be silhouettes | Free vector by Vexels adapted bt LTL

It may seem like fair play, but offering to "play a let" when you are not sure is not OK in tennis. Here's why!

"Hey!  Just a suggestion - Can you do a reminder about the “no lets” rule – if you aren’t sure about the call on your side… you give it to your opponent?     It doesn’t seem  to be well known… even some experienced league players aren’t aware of it!"

Thanks for the suggestion Charlie, and happy to oblige, as "playing a let" is one of the most misunderstood and sometimes controversial part of the rules of tennis, especially in matches where there is no umpire.

In the age of Hawkeye we are used to definitive rulings in tennis and challenging line calls is all part of the game. But without an umpire, or technology to appeal to, we need to fall back on the rules. In the self-umpired matches we play, the player on the side of the court where the ball lands calls the lines.

If you see the ball in, it is in. Your opponent may challenge you by asking if you are sure, but if you are, the debate ends there.

But what if you are not sure?

Don't Just play a let... 

If you aren't sure of your call, and there is no shame in that, you must concede the point to your opponent. Don't be persuaded to play a "let". It's actually a misunderstanding of what a let is, and if you want to know more, see our companion story here

Playing a let undermines both players' ability to make decisions, slows the game and leads to uncertainty.

Don't forget the rule works for both players. You give you opponent the benefit of the doubt if you are not sure, and he or she must do the same for you.

Stick to your guns and as the Fab Four might have said, We Can Work It Out (or in).